Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bloomin' Trees

The trees around our house are putting on a show right now. I had a gorgeous walk with the dog through the neighborhood today. Oklahoma has some serious show-stopping bushes and trees. Here is tour of the blooming trees in my yard:

We have two of these trees in the back yard. Anyone know what they are?

Front yard plum tree

Apple tree


The previous owner of our home told me this was a magnolia variety. Can't wait for these buds to open!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Team Work

I just love being part of a good team. Although I was never very good at any one sport growing up, I always had a blast doing team stuff. That has not changed with age. Now my teamwork is mostly tied to planning things. I am so blessed to work on lots of great teams. This was a weekend of teamwork with both our neighborhood and church Easter egg hunts and celebrations. Two fun, great events and two great teams of people. Here are a few shots of the action:

Now that those events are over I get to start focusing on my one really big project for the year, Vacation Bible School. I love planning this awesome week, mainly because I work with an amazing team. We met up for lunch today to get things rolling and now my brain is churning. Watch out people- we are gearing up! To all my Church of the Servant/ Warm World friends, time to start running when you see me headed your way:) I can't wait!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alexander and the No Good Horrible Day

Today started out with such potential. Earlier this week Zander's teacher pulled me to the side at drop off to "remind me", wink wink, that the school award assembly would be Friday. I took that as a good hint to bring in the big guns as my buddy would most likely pull in the big award, the Holy Grail for kindergarten, Student of the Quarter award. So, I made sure my hubby would be there and called the in-town grandparents to invite them as well. Celebration time!

The back story to this big deal award is that we had a pretty rough transition into all day kindergarten at our new school this year. There were some hard days and lots of tears. We have come a long way and I am so very proud of Zander's accomplishments. He has worked hard to earn this award.

I ran all my errands this morning and got home a little after one to get Zella to rest up for the three o'clock assembly. I flipped on a little TV for her and my cell phone rang. Zander's teacher was calling to tell me to get over to school right away. Apparently my buddy was running on the playground, bumped into a friend and proceeded to fall face first on a slide. He knocked out one of his top front teeth and bent back the other front tooth and the smaller tooth next to it. He also managed to open up a pretty good gash under his lip. We got our first bloody E.R. visit. Not the landmark I was hoping for today!

Luckily the Saint Anthony staff got us right in and 5 stitches and a whole lot of tears later we were rolling up the Hefner Parkway to see our favorite dentist. We count on the Schmidt family for a lot as our very dear friends, but this was the first time we got to use the added benefit of immediate emergency dental attention. Dr. Lance assured us Zander would be fine and did not need any procedures right then- thank goodness for baby teeth, although his bent back teeth look awful!

We got back home, tried to regroup and my sweet hubby managed to throw the knocked out tooth into the very nasty and full kitchen trash can. Here is the result:

They did manage to recover the tooth, though hubby may never eat eggs again. Tonight before bed we wrote the tooth fairy a note to let her know this tooth is much more valuable than the average tooth. I feel pretty confident she will respond appropriately.

The bottom line, we missed the assembly. I was so sad that Zander missed his big awards moment. We did get back home right as school was dismissing. So, we walked down the street to get our wonderful award from his teacher, Miss L. Here he is with a fat lip, stitches, messed up teeth, and a rockin' new Student of the Quarter T-Shirt.

This day is definitely one made for repeatedly retold stories. I know I will never forget our version of Alexander and the No Good Very Bad Day!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One Year Anniversary

I have never been a huge "Anniversary" person. My hubby and I always do something special to commemorate our big wedding day, but we are pretty low key. It always cracks me up a little when people talk about 4 month anniversaries for dating, or the 5 year anniversary of when he proposed. I really don't keep track of dates very well I guess!

As I was walking the dog this morning I strolled past the Aberdeen apartment complex, at the corner of 15th and Robinson, which was the Leffel home as we transitioned into life downtown. It struck me all of a sudden- "Hey- about this time last year we moved in there!" I came home and checked the true ledger of events in our lives, the checkbook, and I was right! We moved last year on March 20th. That cozy townhouse/apartment was only our home for three very quick months, but it represented a major shift in life for our family. We had known for a long time that we really wanted to move downtown for a LOT of reasons. Now that we are here I can say without a doubt that I totally LOVE IT! So, I will break from my non-anniversary nature to give you my list of the top 5 things I love about living in downtown Oklahoma City in honor of our family's first anniversary here:

1. Death of the Commute: The number one reason by far for our move. We have at least 40 more minutes a day with my husband because instead of taking 20-45 minutes ONE WAY to get to work, it takes 4-5 by car and only 30 to WALK! Woo Hoo! Side benefits include- lunches with hubby at home, appearance of hubby at random during the day school functions for our kids, dinners as a family at a reasonable time, breakfasts as a family, I could go on here...

2. Community: Our neighborhood has such a strong sense of community. We have a rocking arts centered neighborhood school that I WALK my kiddo to each day- on sidewalks no less! We have a neighborhood park, neighborhood festivals, and people walk, bike, and sit on their front porches. I have met 10x more neighbors in the nine months we have lived in our house than we did in the 5 years we lived in our previous neighborhood.

3. Food: Sad that this weighs in at 3, but true. We love to eat and have long spent date nights cruising downtown to enjoy all our favorites. Now we are here and it is gastronomically glorious! We can walk faster than we can drive to Cheevers, Cuppies and Joe, and Big Truck Taco. It is easy to walk to the Plaza Court for McNellies, Cafe do Brazil, 1492, etc. The Wedge, Iguana Lounge, Sage, and many more must eats for us are just a short car ride away. The best part? These are all LOCAL restaurants, so more of our dollars support OKC.

4. Entertainment: With the first MAPS downtown OKC exploded with entertainment options. Bricktown, the Ballpark, movies, canal rides, restaurants, bowling, museums, gardens, theater, a state of the art YMCA, and the holy grail this time of year... the Ford Center! We can do it all and be there in minutes. During December you can add snow tubing and ice skating to the list. Where is my husband right now? At the Thunder game with Zander! They can leave at the half and be home and tucked in for bedtime in 15 minutes. It rocks to live so close to so much great entertainment.

5. The Future: The best part for me is that this area is only getting better. So much has changed and opened up just in the year we have been here. With the passage of MAPS 3 even more awesomeness is coming. A new central park for one thing- have you seen the plans? It looks to be amazing. With the construction of the new Devon building comes a huge renovation for the Myriad gardens with several specially planned children's areas, a cafe, and water features that turn into an ice rink in the winter among other things, and that should be done in a year. It makes me proud to call Oklahoma City my adoptive home. Friends who come to visit me now leave impressed and excited to come back.

So, there is my anniversary list. We love it here! We will always have strong connections to our church and friends on the north side of town, but we are here to stay. It used to make me a little defensive when people asked why we wanted to move down here... now it just makes me smile.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The "After" for Big Trash Day Find!

Today was a totally beautiful day so I could not help but bust out the spray paint to transform my trash to treasure! I promised a photo of the results, so here it is. I went Chocolate Brown and wish it was maybe a shade darker. I do think it looks better than the cream...



Next Question: Should I paint the swing to match?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Life is so Cool!

I am most definitely a science nerd at heart. I think nature is so captivating, and I got totally sucked into the new Life series on Discovery last night. It is a beautiful, educational, fascinating program that to me represents what is great about TV- namely to take you places and show you things you may never experience in normal life. You should watch it, DVR it, and show it to your kids! Sunday nights, check your local listings for times.

For those of you that may not know this about me, I graduated from University of Iowa with a degree in Science Education and taught middle school science here in Oklahoma for five years before I started my current career as a mom.

My parents definitely started my love of science via our annual summer vacation camping trips. We loaded up the Ford Van and hitched on the pop up camper to hit the open road for two to three weeks each year. Our destinations were varied and we visited all 48 lower states, totally amazing in hindsight! National Parks and monuments were always on the list of things to see, and that is where my sense of wonder and love for the natural world began.

This picture was taken in Teton National Park near Jackson Wyoming in 1984. Yes that cute kid in the blue jacket with the walking stick is me...

Fast forward about 25 years and things will come full circle this summer. My mom and dad called this weekend to tell my kids they bought a camper! For Christmas this year they bought the kids a National Park Passport book and promised to take them camping in a Park this summer. Needless to say the kids are pumped and I am excited and nostalgic all at the same time. I am glad that 25 years from now they can sit down and look at pictures like this:

Life really is so cool!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Learning to Fly

Is there any better feeling than flying along on a bike with the wind blowing through your hair? I love it! Lance bought me a super cool cruiser style bike this fall and I love to hop on on the rare occasion both my kids are at school and I have time to play. I rode to Walgreens from our house a few weeks ago and when I picked Zander up from school he said "Mommy, did you ride your bike today? I saw you out my classroom window!" Pretty funny!

Zander was a maniac on his bike with training wheels all last summer but quit in protest when I took off the trainers. I have been trying so hard to get him to try riding without the training wheels ever since. Today he did it!! We went over to his school playground and rode on the grass.

Unfortunately about a half hour later he crashed and burned with a nasty scrape to his shoulder. Riding is easy but stopping is a little harder to master. I am so proud of my buddy for giving it a go!

Spring Break is Really a Break!

This should not be a shocking headline, but it sort of is for me! In the past Spring Break sort of felt like a test of patience and scheduling prowess as I tried to keep us busy and myself from going nuts. It has come on slowly but is so nice to see the difference increasing independence from my children has made on my ability to relax and enjoy them. We can now spend whole days just hanging out and I do not want to run from the house screaming by the end of the day.
The biggest difference maker has really been the start of all day school for Zander. He is just so very busy now that he is gone so much, it really is so refreshing for all of us to get up late, hang out in our PJ's, and relax. I am looking forward to today- the last real day of break before the weekend. I have no idea what we will do, but I know it will be fun!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Big Trash Day Find

Big Trash day is always an exciting time in any neighborhood. All the junk collectors drive around in their pickups salvaging whatever they deem treasure as the rest of us gleefully pitch stuff to the curb to clean out our closets and garages. I actually love the way things get recycled on this day. It is cool that the city is never there on day one to pick stuff up. They always give the dumpster divers a chance to have a look first. It is actually a very Green practice.
Our family is always on the pitching side of this equation... Until this afternoon! I took the kiddos on an afternoon adventure for a haircut and treat at Cuppies and Joe. YUM! As I pulled back down my street I saw my treasure. Big Trash had already been scooped up this morning so I knew she was all mine for the taking. Apparently this family had forgotten to get the big trash out on time so they set her on the side of the street with a sign marked FREE! My kids were amazed as I pulled over, popped the hatch and hefted her in.

When we moved into our new house last summer we spent almost every night sitting on our front porch. It is a fabulous place to have a drink and unwind at the end of the day. Our porch is fantastic but was missing one thing to take it to perfection... a coffee table to pop your feet on and set your drinks on. Woo Hoo, welcome home table! So, now it is question time: What color should I paint it? Black, Chocolate Brown, leave it alone? Give me your input please!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Zen and the Art of Fish Pond Maintenance

There is nothing more relaxing than sitting out on my back patio in the morning as the days get warmer listening to the calming sound of running water from our fish pond fountain. This fountain has enchanted me since the first time I saw this house and got a very one of a kind tour from the previous owner. The picture above is of the pond last spring as we were in the process of purchasing the house. Looks good huh? Unfortunately is was not looking so great when I went out today...

Now, I am proud to say that although it is looking a little rough I only killed one of our 7 fish over the winter, and I am just positive it must have died of old age. Either way I thought it was time to do a good cleaning and filter change out. I worked very hard getting it all cleaned and put back together. Confident that the pond was now looking much better I went back inside. About 30 minutes later I happened to look out the window to see a river running down the driveway and the fish practically screaming HEEEEELP! The water level was down about a foot... oops! Apparently when I put everything back together I pointed the return hose into the garden rather than the pond. You learn a lesson every day right? Today's was certainly valuable... double check your work lest you kill your kids fish and have to explain what happened.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rumble Mania

The Leffel household loves us some Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball. We are super spoiled by Geep and Gege and get to go to lots of games. Although the basketball is great and we are so psyched to see the Thunder doing so well this year, the real star of the Thunder in this house is RUMBLE! If you are not familiar, Rumble is the Thunder Mascot. He is a Bison that basically recalls Michael J. Fox's Teen Wolf. Rumble is so much fun to watch and really does an amazing job at entertaining during the games.
Rumble recently celebrated his 1st birthday and had a bunch of his mascot friends over for a party at the game. They took lots of pictures before the game and entertained so well, the kids had a total ball that night. However, we were still in search of the elusive one on one picture with Rumble for my kids. Then, last night at the game Rumble walked right up to our row and we finally got that money picture for both kids. Here they are!

Woo Hoo! Now, I am on the hunt for the best Thunder shirt I have seen yet... It says I heart and has a picture of Rumble. Has anyone seen one? I am dying to get this shirt (no, not for my kids... for ME!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Time Really Does Fly- The Big #4

If you have kids or are just around them you know the terribly trite phrase "They grow up so fast!" is also terribly true. Well, today is a big day at our house. My sweet baby girl turns 4 today. This is really hard for me to believe. As I celebrate I can't help but feel the teeniest bit sad that I won't get to have a three year old again. I am so proud of Zella Grace. She is such a fun, creative, free-spirited, loving, HAPPY! Kid. So...
That was then:

This is now:

Love you Zella Girl!

Decorating Seasons

Confession time... I love a good decorating blog. When I have the itch to do something crafty there are literally millions of ideas waiting for me in blog land. People out there are so amazing at making something out of almost nothing. So, I like to try out my own ideas from time to time. With Spring on the horizon I wanted to change up my dining table hurricane and find a couple small decorations to put in some other places. Now, I have to be careful here. I come from a line of crafty women who have been known to go overboard in purchase and display of seasonal decor (sorry mom, but you know it is kind of true). I aim for a minimalist look. Here are the two projects I made using stuff I had mixed with a $3 pack of fake easter eggs from Hobby Lobby.
I like the Hurricane:

But these? Hmmm...

My question to you... Cute or just strange?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bad Mom Moments

We all have them, right? RIGHT? Ok. Glad I am not alone in this. I always try to cut other moms as much slack as I can because we do a very hard job. Sometimes we get caught in a bad moment that does not come close to resembling the great work we do overall. But today...

Zella and I left school to head over to the Shoe Carnival at the Belle Isle shopping center to return some shoes. As I got out of my car I look over and see a car running with the windows down and three kids under the age of 5 all alone. No adult in sight. I cannot in good conscience leave these kiddos. I walk over and ask the oldest, "Do you know where your Mommy is?" and she says "that store" and points to Old Navy. I am having a seriously difficult internal debate about whether or not I should call the police.

A group of three ladies (one pregnant) obviously out shopping on their break from work come walking back to their car and I ask if they are willing to stand by the car and watch the kids while I go into Old Navy. They agree and I run into the store. I ask the cashier to do an all store call and explain the situation. He says they cant do all store announcements but will try something. He then continues to check out a customer. At this point I am fishing for my phone to call the police, it is obvious this clerk is not in a hurry. As I am feeling around for the phone in the dark depths of my purse a younger woman rushes by me after checking out at a different register.

I get a feeling about this lady and watch her walk towards the car with the kids. I yell after her, "are those your kids?" and she says yes. "You were about 10 seconds from having the cops called on you" was my witty response. She drove away and I did nothing but stare her down. The other ladies said she told them she had left her wallet in the store- big fat lie!

So, I am now wondering if I gave a good mama a wake up call on a bad day or passed up a chance to get the authorities involved with a family in distress. Yuck! What a morning.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What a weekend...

This weekend was great. Three highlights:
1. The Informant!
This movie was shot in my hometown of Decatur, Illinois which just so happens to be the soybean capitol of the world. Lets just say not many movies are shot there so I had so much fun watching for glimpses of home throughout the movie. Matt Damon is also hilarious although unfortunately under an unflattering transformation for the film. Pretty fun movie- check it out!

2. Oklahoma Gardening School
Myriad gardens put on a gardening school at the civic center on Saturday and it was fun. Learned a ton about great plants to use in landscaping for Oklahoma. Great information for a non-native okie trying to get into gardening. By far the best part of the presentation was by the director of the gardens. As part of the whole Devon skyscraper project the myriad gardens are getting a MAJOR face lift! I tried to find the plans online to link up here but was unsuccessful. They are putting in a cafe, restaurant, dog park, huge kids area and teaching garden, revitalized stage, and multiple water features (one of which will be an ice rink in winter) just to name a few. WOW! They begin renovations after the arts festival this April and plan to try and finish it by the following year's arts festival. Want to meet me over there in about a year? I plan to move in after seeing the pics. LOVE OKC's DOWNTOWN!!!

3. Stop Hunger Now
You pretty much have to live under a rock not to know that hunger is a major issue in the US and around the world. I was so excited to be a part of a mission project at our church, Church of the Servant Methodist, today. Our congregation raised the funds to buy the supplies for and then packed over 100,000 meals. These meals are targeted to be sent to Africa for school children. It was a wonderful opportunity to get hands on in helping combat hunger. The best part- my 6 year old son, Zander, got to help in the packaging. He was so proud and it was such a great way for my husband and I to help him make the connection between faith and action. WOW! What a great way for our family to start the week.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Getting Started

"What are you going to blog about?"

My husband asked me this casually when I mentioned starting a blog, and I am still not totally sure of the answer. I blog a lot in my head already and thought it might be a good exercise to write it down. So, here we go. I plan to post random things as they arise but also want to use this blog to track the progress of my gardens for one year. We bought our new home in April of last year and it has a great garden in the back yard filled with tons of perennials. I had so much fun last year watching to see what was coming up in the gardens but I was way too busy with moving and remodeling to really record any of it. Before I start digging and making this garden my own I want to know what is going to come up where. I was totally shocked yesterday to walk around and find set of daffodils almost open. Here they are...

Hope today will be first bloom day. Hooray for Spring!